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December 30, 2014

GSA to Reinstate Commissioners Responsible for 2010 Scandal

It’s been more than four years since the U.S. Government Services Administration hosted the Western Regions Conference in Las Vegas, costing more than $800,000 in public funds. In those years, the government took a wide range of steps to prevent further overspending on business travel and punished those deemed responsible for the scandal. Along with those directly involved in the planning process, former Region 8 Commissioner Paul Prouty and Region 7 Commissioner James Weller were fired after the acting PBS commissioner determined that they should have realized the conference costs were "questionable and excessive" and taken action, the Federal Times is reporting.

Last week, on Christmas Eve, a federal appeals panel determined on Christmas Eve that the GSA failed to show any justification for firing Prouty and Weller, affirming earlier decisions by two MSPB administrative law judges. According to Federal News Radio, the board ordered GSA to reinstate both Prouty and Weller to the senior executive service positions it had fired them from in June 2012 and pay them back wages for the past 2 1/2 years, plus interest.

RELATED: Protecting Conferences in the Wake of the GSA Scandal

In making its ruling, the board wrote: 

There can be no doubt that the decisions that were made in the planning and carrying out of the 2010 [Western Regional Conference] reflect a disregard of economy and a level of extravagance that have no place in government. However the agency, by abandoning its duty to produce evidence in support of its charges… simply did not prove that these particular appellants knew or had reason to know of these ill-advised planning and purchasing decisions until after the conference had concluded, at which time no action on their part would have been effective.

GSA has 20 days from the date of the decision to reinstate Prouty and Weller. The rehiring will be effective June 2012 and the agency has 60 days to reimburse them for back pay, interest and benefits.

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